Today I got the call from memory care facility where my gramma is living. I always worry when I see their number come up on caller ID, “are they calling because she’s died?” Well fortunately it wasn’t that this morning but it was just as concerning as she had a fall late last night/early this morning. She’s got a lot of pain and needs to be checked out at the hospital for X-rays and more.
It’s time like these that I just question so many things about myself or our country and it’s changing values, etc. As a long distance care giver I feel the guilt of not being able to visit often and not being as “present” as I probably should be in my grandmother’s care. I know that we have been able to provide her with better care than we could have if she stayed in her home especially when you consider that if she was at home still without round the clock care she might have gone hours without being found after a fall. And she was adamant about not coming out East to live with / near us; after all she had a life where she is and roots there for 70+ years. Her husband is also buried there and that gives her comfort.
But it does make me reflect on some things about our culture and/or about the things we hold onto that may or may not be rational reasons to justify staying or moving.
Because as Americans we are nomadic by nature - we follow the job or the opportunity. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but if we look at the nature of statements like “go West young man” and watch our history tied to the admiration of the courage needed to seek out prosperity, we can see that staying rooted is not always seen as the “number one” option for young adults. But at times like this I question that mentality. I wish I was closer to gramma go hop in the car and make sure she isn’t dealing with this by herself. And as she gets older, she really is dealing with this on her own as her friends have largely already moved onto the next existence or are unable to get out of their own care situations...
I really do pray that our children stay local if they can but obviously we can’t make them. It’s just that over my brief life I see the tremendous value of being closer to family - the ability to help your children as they fight to get established. The opportunity to help watch their kids so they might have a little more time to themselves etc. But there are many positives to pursuing opportunities as well. Everyone needs to make their own decisions and follow their own hearts but as I get more experience and change the visions of what’s important in my life I think I would look at challenging the traditional orthodoxy of follow the opportunities and teaching my kids that financial motivation is certainly a motivator and consideration for your future, but that there are real consequences for following that path too.
I also look on the bright side if following opportunity. As we get older and watch our children get older we should realize that the life we build here is temporary and that while we may love the “things” and lifestyle we build on this earth, that there are things and relationships that are more important that we should be ready to pursue. We look at our house as a thing now. Sure we’ll love it while we’re all in it, but it’s just a thing and we should be able to cut ties with that thing when other more higher priorities come to light. I’d love for our kids to all stay close so that their families can grow together, but if they don’t, we’ll likely have to be ready to be a bit nomadic too. We can always move closer to them.
The thing we have to realize is that we “need” each other. We don’t necessarily need the things we build. But we do need the relationships we build with the people we love the most. Being closer to them could mean greater social contact as we age, greater purpose and joy as we age with family nearby and more. I am not advocating one mentality over another but I guess I’m saying that my preference would be for family to stay close to each other - whether that is the younger generation being more rooted or an elder generation being open to being nomadic, I just think that being close is important. It’s important to have people that you love and trust to support you through challenges and to bring you joy in the good times.
I guess I’m just saying don’t just weigh things out on financial or ego terms - be ready to prioritize other things you may not be thinking about when allured by prosperity or title. It’s not wrong to go after what is best for you and your family financially, but is the extra 10 grand worth a life with more limited access to your parents or children? And if you’re wedded to your house, are those memories worth more than greater access to grandchildren and children? Perhaps we have to reframe what opportunities are worth making bigger moves :)
After all respect for parents is built into the Ten Commandments.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 NIV